Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Mel/Johnny, Madame Zora, President
Fandom: Public Enemies
Genres: Challenge, Drama, Holiday, Mystery, Romance
Rating (this chapter): G
General Summary: A fortuneteller predicts an unusual twist.
Chapter Summary: Johnny gets his fortune told at a carnival.
Date Of Completion: September 25, 2011
Date Of Posting: October 9, 2011
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1674
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for my 2011 Guns_Fedoras Public Enemies Fic/Art Halloween Challenge. Option 1: (Elements of Halloween used set in or around Halloween: (The Twilight Zone, Candles, Tarot Cards, Crystals, Crystal Ball, Jack O’Lanterns/Pumpkins, Black-And-Orange, Witches, Ghosts (Paper Cut-Outs).
The entire series can be found here.
COTTON CANDY ‘N’ LEMON ICE
About a man bold,
He was sold
On his fortune gold.
“You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead — your next stop, the Twilight Zone.”
“Observe, a man of supreme self-confidence: bank robber John Dillinger, known as Public Enemy No. 1. He relishes that designation, comfortable in his own skin, confident of his place in life. Sometimes impatient with his G-Man lover, Melvin Purvis, and his hesitation to let loose, he will soon find out what it’s like to walk a mile in another man’s shoes…courtesy of the Twilight Zone.”
“C’mon, sugar, don’t be so tight.”
Johnny squeezed Mel’s hand, releasing it as they walked down the midway of the Chicago World’s Fair carnival, attached to the main Fair. He loved anything to do with the Fair and couldn’t get enough of it. The air was chilly as befit an October night.
Revelers flowed all around them, eager to grab a hot dog or cotton candy or to try their hand at the shooting gallery or ring toss. Bright lights lit up the midway and the rides, the giant Ferris wheel turning slowly as the smell of fried dough and sausages drifted from the food vendors’ booths. The spirit of the season (Halloween was right around the corner) was in the air.
Johnny was wearing his wire-rimmed glasses, straw boater, and casual outfit of light-blue pants and jacket over a white shirt. Mel was dressed in a dark-blue suit that made him look entirely too scrumptious, in Johnny’s not-so-humble opinion. He did not want to attract attention, but he was feeling daring tonight.
“Johnny, you have to be careful.”
“I am, darlin’. C’mon, Mel, lighten up. You’re entirely too tense.”
“I just don’t want to see you end up in a jail cell.”
“Aww, thanks, Sunshine, but you know I’ll just get out of it.”
Mel smiled at Johnny’s smirk. “I suppose you would.”
Johnny was glad that Mel was getting into the spirit of their little adventure. He had been a little put out by Mel’s reluctant to fully relax, but now he seemed to be unwinding.
“I want you as light ‘n’ fluffy as cotton candy, sugar,” he winked, Mel blushing prettily.
“I thought you would prefer sizzling sausages.”
Johnny laughed. “Oh, Mel, I love you.” He was pleased to see Mel’s smile of happiness.
“Hey, want your fortune told?” Johnny asked as they approached a black-and-yellow-striped tent that glittered under the lights. The sign outside proclaimed, Fortunes Told By Madame Zora.
“Fortune-telling? Really, Johnny.”
Johnny laughed. “C’mon, sugar.”
Mel rolled his eyes. “All right, but I believe it is traditional to be alone when your fortune’s told.”
“Okay, I’ll go first.”
“Be my guest.”
Johnny laughed as he entered the tent, immediately hit by a subtle sweet/smoky smell, and he adjusted his eyes to the dimness.
The tent walls were adorned with swords and a coat of arms. A hand-carved wooden walking stick was propped up in one corner.
On the table were a variety of objects: yellow candles in gold-painted candlesticks, a deck of cards, a collection of different-colored crystals, and a crystal ball set on a pewter dragon base, ruby eyes winking in the flicker of candlelight. A small Jack O’Lantern glowed eerily on the table, its light flickering on the walls.
Johnny put his hand on the back of the chair set in front of the table. He wondered if the smell was from incense.
The back of the tent opened, and Johnny realized that he was looking at a curtain that concealed a back area of the tent. Bracelets and necklaces jangled as the fortuneteller appeared, dressed in a squash-colored peasant blouse and purple skirt. Her jewelry was gold and silver and sparkled with a rainbow of jewels. Long, blond hair was capped by a purple silk bandanna decorated with gold stars and half-moons, gold hoop earrings swinging as she walked forward.
Johnny did as requested, genuinely curious. He had never had his fortune told before.
“So,” said Madame Zora, picking up the deck of cards, “What do you wish to know, my friend?” Her blue eyes were oddly piercing, enhancing a pretty face.
“Oh, nothin’ in particular. My love life’s good,” he said with a smirk.
“Good. Let’s see what the cards have to say.”
Johnny noticed that the cards were not ordinary playing cards. They were decorated with fantastical artwork, bright though the deck itself was well-worn.
Zora deftly laid them out after a quick shuffle. She gazed intently at the cards, then looked up at her client.
“I see freedom in your future. The world is yours to take, but there will be a decision to make.” She tapped a card. “A crossroads is coming.”
“Far in the future.”
Johnny felt relieved. He was not interested in making any life-changing decisions right now.
“Ah.” Zora set more cards down. “You will walk in another man’s shoes.”
Johnny smirked. “Dress shoes, I hope.’
“That’ll be up to you.” She put down another card. “You are a lucky man in life.”
He considered his nine years in prison, but he had made good friends and learned his trade as a bank robber there, so that might be considered lucky. And he was certainly lucky in love!
Zora picked up the cards. “I hope you will learn something when you walk that mile.”
“As long as it’s not the final mile.”
She smirked. “It might be difficult. We never truly know another’s life, do we?”
Johnny was amused as he paid, then left the tent. “Your turn.”
“Did she predict you’ll meet someone tall, dark, and handsome?” Mel drawled.
“Already met ‘im.”
Mel smiled as he disappeared into the tent.
Johnny lit a cigarette as he waited, watching the people as they laughed and enjoyed themselves. He nodded to a pretty young girl who giggled, but made sure not to meet too many people’s eyes. He didn’t need to be recognized.
He thought of Zora’s prediction. All nonsense, of course, but he thought about it. It would be a good look into a man’s psyche to walk in his shoes, but that was just a metaphor.
Wouldn’t Mel like my fancy talk?
Whistling, he smoked his Lucky Strike until Mel came out. He dropped the cigarette and ground it out.
“So, you gonna be President of the United States?”
Mel laughed. “Thank God, no. That is a terrible job, when you think about it. I have enough trouble as SAC of the Chicago field office.”
Johnny leaned over and whispered, “I like your sac.”
Mel blushed and laughed and slapped Johnny’s shoulder. “You’re awful, suh,” he said, though his eyes were twinkling.
Johnny would have kissed him if they were not out in public. Instead he gave Mel’s hand a quick squeeze and said, “C’mon, I’ll treat you to a lemon ice.”
As they enjoyed the cool treat, Johnny said, “It sure smelled nice inside that tent. A smoky but sweet sort of smell.”
“It was patchouli.”
“Patchouli.” Mel took a bite of the ice, its coolness sliding down his throat. He looked positively decadent, Johnny thought. “It’s close to the incense that they use in Catholic churches, but not quite.”
“Ah. Well, ya learn somethin’ new everyday.” Johnny enjoyed the sharp tang of the lemon ice on his tongue.
They enjoyed the rest of the evening and reluctantly parted when the left the carnival grounds, Johnny impulsively saying, “Come away with me.”
“I wish I could.” Mel’s voice was filled with regret.
“Just do it,” Johnny urged, the romance of the evening overwhelming him. Mel looked beautiful in the soft glow cast by the streetlight.
“I’m sorry, Johnny, I can’t.”
Frustrated, Johnny was going to protest further but saw how upset his lover was becoming. Changing tactics, he smiled. “Don’t worry, Sunshine, it’ll all work out. Madame Zora said I was a lucky man, and she didn’t even know you were my man.” He winked.
Mel laughed and squeezed Johnny’s hand. “Call me.”
Johnny suddenly dragged Mel into the alley and kissed him, Mel returning the kiss. Satisfied, they parted, Johnny whistling jauntily as he caught the streetcar home.
His room in the house was a modest one with a dresser, bed and nightstand made of maplewood, the ceiling painted a light-blue to match the walls. As he got ready for bed, he wondered why Mel rarely let himself go. Well, he would work on getting his sweet Southern honey to loosen up.
He climbed into bed, ready for a good night’s sleep.
When Johnny awoke, he smelled bacon and eggs cooking. Red was probably the cook, the best of the gang. He opened his eyes, startled as he saw a white ceiling.
I must be still half-asleep.
Blinking, he realized that the ceiling was white. Looking around, he noticed that the bed was dark cherrywood and a four-poster with matching dresser and nightstand, but there were paintings of country landscapes on the walls painted light yellow and a rocking chair in the corner.
What is going on here?
The door opened and before he could demand an explanation of Red or Homer, was shocked to see a nattily-attired Negro smiling at him.
“I see you’re up, Mr. Dillinger. Breakfast will be ready in fifteen minutes.”
“Uh, thank you…President?”
The butler nodded. “You’re welcome, sir. While you shower, I’ll lay out those clothes you asked me to iron.”
Johnny realized that he was wearing light-blue silk pajamas instead of his green cotton pajama bottoms and undershirt. He shuffled off to the bathroom with a robe and clean underwear, walking down the hall of an elegant townhouse instead of the modest house that he was sharing with his gang.
What’s happening? he thought in shock.